- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2008

CHINA

Spielberg ends role as Olympic adviser

NEW YORK — Film director Steven Spielberg ended his involvement as an artistic adviser for the Beijing Olympics yesterday, hours after actress Mia Farrow and several humanitarian groups assailed him for working with the games’ Chinese organizers.

At issue for both Miss Farrow and Mr. Spielberg is China’s close relationship with Sudan, where thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the Darfur region.

China buys two-thirds of Sudan’s oil exports. In turn, China sells weapons to the Sudanese government.

THAILAND

Government receptive to Muslim autonomy

BANGKOK — Thailand is considering granting partial autonomy to its Muslim-majority southern provinces, which for the past four years have been the scene of a bloody Islamic insurgency, the new interior minister said yesterday.

More than 2,900 people have been killed since early 2004 in nearly daily drive-by shootings and bombings in the three provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

While conceding that some degree of self-rule in the south “is a possibility,” Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobambrung said independence for the region was out of the question.

GERMANY

Church loses suit against monitoring

BERLIN — A German administrative court yesterday upheld a lower court’s ruling allowing the nation’s domestic intelligence services to monitor activities of the German branch of the Church of Scientology.

The North Rhine-Westphalia Higher Administrative Court in Muenster said there was sufficient information to permit intelligence agencies to keep the organization under observation.

The court said, however, that it “specifically left open whether Scientology is considered a religious organization.”

BURMA

Suu Kyi followers demand democracy

RANGOON — Supporters of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi protested yesterday to demand democracy in Burma, days after the military regime said it would hold elections in 2010 under a new constitution likely to entrench the junta’s powerful position.

About two dozen members of Mrs. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, shadowed by plainclothes police, gathered peacefully outside the party’s headquarters to complain that the junta’s moves toward democracy are insufficient.

It was a rare display of public displeasure in the tightly controlled country.

SOUTH AFRICA

Elite anti-crime unit being dissolved

JOHANNESBURG — The government is dissolving an elite graft-busting unit set up by prosecutors, the security minister announced yesterday.

Police had long considered the unit of the national prosecuting authority as invading their turf, and it has been linked by the governing African National Congress to a power struggle between the party’s new leader and South Africa’s president.

The elite force, known as the “Scorpions,” filed graft charges against Jacob Zuma, who was elected ANC leader in December, and also brought a case against national police commissioner Jackie Selebi, who has temporarily stepped down.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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